A Passion for Music

Texas-native Terri Hendrix has a lifetime of musical experience and a classical music background to account for her creative talent. As a singer-songwriter, Hendrix has managed to produce over nine albums, develop her own record label, Wilory Records, toured extensively nationwide, and has won many music awards, such as the Austin Music Award for Best Singer-Songwriter. And she has a 2003 Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance of the song “Lil’ Jack Slade,” which was co-written with the Dixie Chicks.

Hendrix has been working on a new album and has also kicked off a U.S. tour. Recently, Jupiter Index had the pleasure to ask a few questions of this Lone Star artist.

Bianetth Valdez: How have challenges that you’ve faced throughout your life, influenced or affected your songwriting and your music?
Terri Hendrix” There an old quote that says, "How can you sit down and write, if you have not stood up to live." I like this quote and find that it explains the whole writing process perfectly for me. Every challenge, heartache, joy, rejection, inclusion, you name it - works its way into my music.

What has been your most memorable and proudest accomplishment within your music career?
This is so sad to say this as this man meant so much to so many people. His loss is a big one for those in the state of Ohio as he was a staunch advocate of music and independent musicians. His name was Chris Miller and he was a writer for the paper in Bowling Green, Ohio, as well as other magazines. Some lyrics of mine were included on his headstone. I have a photo of this that his wife sent me. The lyrics are in bronze. It's the reality that we are not here that long. And it's a reminder to me to strive and make a difference with my every moment. I'm humbled by this action and have been changed by it too.

What female musicians and songwriters have inspired you? And which have you admired and looked up to?
I'm just not sure where to start. I have a large music collection. Ella Fitzgerald and Dolly Parton are among my favorites. As is Nanci Griffith and Suzanne Vega. Each brings something unique to the table. I most look up to Eliza Gilkyson I'd suppose along with Sara Groves. Sara's a Christian artist. I'm not into religious music too much, but she has a way about her that blows my mind. Her voice and lyrics are amazing. As for Eliza, well she's almost unsurpassed in the sly way she burns it up on political numbers while simultaneously making your toes tap. Betty Elders. I don't know her but her music changed my life and rocked my socks off. I think Sara Jaroz is an amazing new talent. She works hard at her art and is now a pro. I admire that so much. It's all about the music. That's what I like most about the women I look up to. They are about the music.

As a successful musician, you’ve had the opportunity to play big music events, such as the Austin City Limits Festival and Newport Folk Festival, and you’ve also have played in small, intimate music venues. How do you compare both audiences from one another?
I used to say give me the smaller audience any day. But I don't any more. They both come with polar opposite ways you approach the show. I finally learned the hard way that alternate tunings for me on those big shows are a no go. I tune too slow. So, I am now reworking my "big show" to be more seamless with less down time between song. Those seconds ticking by can seem like years and can ruin a show. The smaller shows you can get away with more, but you reach fewer people. Perhaps the connection is better though, so you truly "reach" more people. Who's to say. Both are different. I just try to keep my foot out of my mouth and not make a fool of myself (smile).

What’s your particular writing process? Do you usually write lyrics first and then the music? Or is it the other way around?
My way seems to be to not have a way. Right now I'm in the middle of some type of change artistically. I don't want to do what I've done before. I'm learning keyboard and diving into Sonny Terry. It's time to change. So, music comes or lyrics come and I just try to catch what's there and record it to sort through later. I use my iPhone to get the ideas before they evaporate.

If there could be any musician, living or dead, which you could collaborate with, who would it be?
I want to collaborate with John Hadley. I've covered his songs before and admire his work. I wish I could sit down and write with Guy Clark and talk to him about some of his songs. Songs like "The Dark," "The Guitar," and "The Cape." I will never ask. I'm too shy and it would be weird to ask. Come on, like what songwriter would not like to have a one on one Q&A with Guy Clark. Paul Simon and John Prine would be cool too.

What advice would you give to young aspiring female singer-songwriters trying to break into the business?
Be yourself and write on the edge ... learn learn learn and listen. Don't ever talk about other women in a negative light even if you do not like them. Write a song about them instead (change their name of course in it). If someone has a following you want, and you don't have squat ... go see this person live. There's a reason why people get followings. Find the reason. Don't just stand there and sing ... you have to play an instrument too. Even if it's an egg. Man, the most scary players I'm seeing these days are coming from the women. It's harder than ever to get an edge. You gotta play or sing like there ain't gonna be a tomorrow ... or write like a God if you do not play an instrument. It's a whole new world out there. Call it the invasion of the 12 year old female virtuoso's. Play an instrument so you can at least hold your head on the same level. Oh, and watch the low rise jeans ... (smile).

What has been the best musical performance you’ve seen live? And which musician(s) would you want to see perform live?
Joe Ely is still my favorite. He never gives a bad show. I want Jesse Taylor to be alive again and playing with Joe. I want Clifford Antone to be alive again and shuffling his feet alongside the stage smiling at me. I want to be about 30 again and see that live show at Antones’ with Joe Ely at the realm and Lloyd Maines on steel.

If you had never found the wonders of music and had become a musician, what would you see yourself doing today?
Teaching. I love it.

When can your listeners expect from your next album?
I'm working on it. I hope in 2010. Like I said earlier, I'm wanting to shake it up a little and this takes practice. Then the practice will produce new songs and music. I can't force it. It just has to happen. I wrote a song the other day. I was singing it at the top of my lungs. "I can see for miles and miles. I can see for miles and miles." My sister quickly brought it to my attention that I was writing a song that had already been written ... by "The Who."

by Bianetth Valdez